YouTube TV Alternatives: My Guide to Cutting the Cord and Costs

Discover budget-friendly alternatives to YouTube TV that cater to both sports and entertainment needs. Our comprehensive guide explores a variety of streaming services, and over-the-air offering you the freedom to choose without compromising on quality.

YouTube TV alternatives
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YouTube TV has earned its stripes as a top-tier live TV streaming service, beloved for its robust channel lineup and user-friendly interface.

Yet, for all its merits, it may not align with every budget. YouTube TV costs $72.99 per month for its base plan.

I am always on the lookout for cost-effective entertainment. So it’s essential to recognize that while YouTube TV sets a high standard, there are alternatives that can fit more modest financial plans without compromising on quality. This guide is dedicated to those seeking a balance between excellence and affordability in their streaming choices.

As a seasoned cord-cutter and tech enthusiast, I’ve navigated the maze of streaming services. Here are alternatives that cater to diverse viewing preferences and budgets.

Why Look Beyond YouTube TV?

YouTube TV offers a range of popular live TV channels, on-demand content and FAST channels, but it may not fit everyone’s budget. You may be able to satisfy your TV-watching needs and pay less every month.

Whether it’s the cost, channel selection, or a desire for a different user experience, exploring alternatives can lead to more tailored viewing.

Cost-Effective Alternatives to YouTube TV

Sling TV: The Flexible Choice

I’ve found Sling TV to be a budget-friendly option. With its “a la carte” model, you select the channels you want. This customization has allowed me to pay for only what I watch, cutting down on costs.

You can pick Sling Orange or Sling Blue as a main channel bundle for $40 per month. Subscribers can get some of the same cable channels that you will finding on YouTube TV, including ESPN, NFL Network and entertainment networks such as AMC.

If you pick up an AirTV 2 or AirTV Anywhere DVR, then you can use a TV antenna, and incorporate local over-the-air channels into your Sling TV guide.

Subscribers have the flexibility to add-on smaller channel bundles for sports, entertainment networks and kids networks. The channel guide is as intuitive and works on most Smart TVs and streaming devices.

Philo: The Economical Entertainer

Philo keeps it simple and affordable. Offering over 70 channels at a fraction of the cost of YouTube TV, it’s a service that has consistently delivered value without breaking the bank. Philo has one live TV plan at $25 per month. You will find only entertainment networks such as HGTV, Hallmark Channel and A&E.

Philo does not carry sports or local channels, and does so to keep its price low. You can add-on premium channels such as STARZ and MGM+.

Frndly TV: The Cozy Corner of Streaming

For a cozy streaming experience, Frndly TV offers a selection of feel-good, family-friendly channels like the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime Movie Network, and UPtv. The Basic plan starts at $6.99 per month, and has more than 49 live TV channels.

It’s an uncomplicated service with a straightforward interface and budget-conscious pricing. It’s a good fit for those who enjoy a touch of nostalgia without the high costs of more extensive packages.

Bundling Streaming Services

Hulu + Live TV: More Than Just Live Channels

Hulu + Live TV now costs more than YouTube TV at $76.99 per month. But it’s worth mentioning because it’s essentially three streaming services rolled into one. A subscription includes ad-supported subscriptions to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, creating an extensive on-demand library.

You do need to access Disney+ and ESPN+ through separate apps. But my experience with their service has been reliable for getting similar channels to YouTube TV, while being able to save some money through bundling ESPN+ and Disney+.

Embrace Over-the-Air Broadcasts: TV Antenna and Tablo DVR

Harness Free Local Channels with a TV Antenna

A Cost-Effective Start: For those looking to replicate the comprehensive live TV experience offered by YouTube TV, starting with a TV antenna can be a surprisingly effective and economical step. With a one-time purchase, you can access a range of local channels in full HD, which often include major networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX—without any monthly fees.

Imagine if you were an NFL fan, you could switch from YouTube TV to watching local channels. You would only miss Monday Night Football on ESPN.

Channel Availability: The number and variety of channels you’ll receive depend on your location and the broadcast signal strength. It’s worth conducting a channel search or using online tools to check which channels are available in your area.

Seamless Transition: The Tablo 4th Generation OTA DVR is a game-changer for cord-cutters. It offers a familiar navigation menu and the convenience of a streaming service, allowing you to watch and record live TV from your antenna and add dozens of free streaming channels without monthly fees.

FAQs on Choosing the Right Streaming Service

How do I decide which service is right for me?

Assess your viewing habits and channel preferences. Look for services that offer the content you enjoy most.

Can I switch services easily if I’m not satisfied?

Absolutely. One of the perks of streaming services is the lack of long-term commitments. You can subscribe or cancel anytime.

Are there free trials available for these services?

Most services offer a free trial period. It’s a risk-free way to explore their offerings. Just be sure to cancel the service well before the free trial ends so you don’t get billed for the month.

How do I ensure I’m getting a good deal?

Compare the costs against the channels and features offered. Also, keep an eye out for promotions and bundle deals.

Final Thoughts on Finding Your Streaming Match

Over the years, I’ve learned that the best service is the one that aligns with your budget and interests. If you want to maintain a similar channel lineup to YouTube TV while saving some money, a blended approach might be best.

For sports fans: Over-the-air channels from a TV antenna and Sling TV would make for an economical alternative to YouTube TV. Sling Orange and Sling Blue offer different sports channels at $40 per month.

For entertainment channels: A Philo or Frndly TV subscription combined with local OTA channels makes for a robust alternative to YouTube TV at a fraction of the price.

With either choice, you can add local channels using a TV antenna, and consider an OTA DVR for recordings and watch on multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Remember, the right choice is out there. It’s just a matter of exploring your options.

For more news on streaming, how-to guides and reviews, head over to the main page of The Cord Cutting Report or follow the CCR on Google News.

Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.

3 thoughts on “YouTube TV Alternatives: My Guide to Cutting the Cord and Costs”

    • Exactly. Depending on the platform you’re using, there are literally thousands of other services one can use. And there are many free services that offer live content as well.

  1. To me, subscription ‘live’ TV just isn’t worth the money, especially given all the ads. If I have to be subjected to ads, I expect the content to be either free or extremely cheap. I only pay for Hulu and the premium version of Peacock because I got both on sale ($2 and $2.50 per month, respectively). I use Pluto TV to give me a similar experience to cable TV without the bill. Those three along with regular free YouTube essentially cover all of my video entertainment needs.


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